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Noah's Ark, in 'Cursur o Werld'

Noah's Ark, in 'Cursur o Werld'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1390

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Vespasian A III

Item number: f.12v

Length: 22.2

Width: 14

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

A long poem on the history of the world based on the Bible, 'Cursur o Werld' or 'Cursor Mundi' is written in a northern dialect of English. The author gives his reason for writing in English: 'for love of the English people of Merry England', so that those unable to read French could still enjoy this world history which "almost over-rennes it all." An enjoyable work it is, too, because its late 13th-century author, who may have been in or near Durham, drew heavily upon the lively, entertaining material of contemporary legends, some of which he translated directly. It could be seen as a religious alternative to the very popular contemporary romances. The author takes as his main theme the Virgin Mary, who is "man's best lover" and brings in nearly every contemporary religious question in which any average person might have an interest. An inscription in the manuscript records that it belonged to William Cosyn, of Lincolnshire, in the late 14th century. It was copied by more than one scribe and not all at once. This page is from one of the sections on Old Testament events. Squeezed in between the two columns of writing and in the lower margin, a simple sketch shows Noah's Ark, with its rudder and a cross atop its mast, signaling the Christian morals toward which the 'Cursur o Werld' is directed.

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