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The Angel and St John, in 'The Royal Books of Virtues and Vices'

The Angel and St John, 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. 4r

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 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.

At some point in its history, the manuscript acquired a pair of full-page pictures, placed in front of the original pages. They probably date to the late 13th or early 14th century and show figures from the Book of Revelations: the seven-headed beast and, shown here, the angel and St John. An owner, Thomas de Sparke, has inscribed his name and some notes in the top margin.

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