Click here to skip to content

The Beast of the Apocalypse, in 'The Royal Books of Virtues and Vices'

The Beast of the Apocalypse, in 'The Royal Books of Virtues and Vices'

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1300

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Cleopatra A V

Item number: f. 3v

Length: 17.3

Width: 11.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated Manuscript

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.

Search within this collection

Elsewhere on our websites

Newsletter

Latest events - register free online

Mobile app

For iPhone, iPad and Android

Report a Concern

What is the nature of your concern?

Report a Concern

What is the nature of your concern?

Email link to a friend

Write a brief note to accompany the email

Your friend's email address: