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Offa And His Men In Battle, In Matthew Paris's 'Lives Of The Offas'

Offa And His Men In Battle, In Matthew Paris's 'Lives Of The Offas'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1250

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Nero D I

Item number: f.3v

Length: 35

Width: 22

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

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Matthew Paris (c. 1200-1259) became a monk of St. Albans in 1217, and in 1236 became the abbey chronicler, a task which allowed him to exercise and explore his talents as a scribe, and as an accomplished and inventive artist. Most of this manuscript is written in Matthew's own distinctive handwriting, as are the miniatures, except for some added in the 14th century. The 'Lives of the Offas' concerns two Kings, both called Offa, the first of whom had promised to found a monastery in the 5th century, and the second of whom carried this out when St. Alban's relics were discovered in the 8th century.

At the lower edge of the leaf is a caption in red, which apparently reads: 'One of the sons of Riganus is killed with a sword'. Action-packed narrative scenes like this were one of Matthew's specialities as a draftsman.

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