The Beast of the Apocalypse, in 'The Royal Books of Virtues and Vices'
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Often known as 'Le Somme le Roy', the homilies in this manuscript were compiled at the request of King Philip III ('the Bold') of France by a Dominican friar, Lorens d'Orleans, in 1279. Lorens assembled pre-existing writings from a number of manuscripts on subjects such as the ten commandments, articles of faith, Book of Revelations, Creed, seven deadly sins, seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and seven cardinal virtues. It is interesting that this copy of it belonged to the cloister of St Augustine in Canterbury because an English translation of it called 'The Ayenbite of Inwyt' ('The Again-Biting of Inner Wit', meaning remorse of conscience) which the monk Dan Michel of Northgate, Kent, started was finished there in 1340.
This impressive picture of the seven-headed beast (Revelations 13:2) from an Apocalypse manuscript was added to the Canterbury 'Somme le Roi' at some point. It is an appropriate frontispiece because the number seven is prominent in the allegories used the homilies, often to link the topics with the Book of Revelations.