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Richard and the Duke of Berry Ride to Paris, in The Pageants of Richard Beauchamp

Richard and the Duke of Berry Ride to Paris, in The Pageants of Richard Beauchamp

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1485

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Julius E IV

Item number: f.6r

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.

The book resembles a photo album of the highlights of a brilliant lifetime. Here Richard and his cousin, the Duke of Berry, ride to Paris, on their way to the Holy Land. Like photos, the pictures try to document his chivalry and courage, with lots of details like the lamps hanging from the gate and the man carrying a heavy bag of goods through it. On the other hand, all opportunities for magnificence are played up, taking cues from contemprary sources such as illustrations of romance manuscripts.

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