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Richard in Combat, in The Pageants of Richard Beauchamp

Richard in Combat, in The Pageants of Richard Beauchamp

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1485

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Julius E IV

Item number: f.11v

Length: 27.7

Width: 20.5

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.

Richard's chivalry is in the forefront throughout the manuscript, enhanced by dramatic pictures of tournaments. One of many such illustrations in the manuscript, the picture of Richard taking part in mounted combat en route from the Holy Land places another contestant in the centre, but our hero is on the left, identifiable by his helmet which has a silver bear holding a ragged staff, the emblem of Warwick. The off-centre design creates a dynamic picture, emphasising the action of the combat.

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