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Thomas de Mowbray and Richard II, in a Historical Compilation

Thomas de Mowbray and Richard II, in a Historical Compilation

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1390

Shelfmark: Cotton MS Nero D VI

Item number: f.85r

Length: 35.5

Width: 23

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

King Richard II (1367-1400), son of Edward the Black Prince, was crowned at age ten, with the regency of a council headed by John of Gaunt. His achievements when an adolescent in negotiating an end to the Peasants' Rebellion, 1381, were not lived up to when he ruled the country as king. He alienated Parliament, was deposed in 1399 and died (probably murdered) a prisoner at Pontefract Castle. This collection of historical documents, a chronicle of English kings and rules for activities at the royal court was made during Richard's reign. It is possible that the king had it made for his ally, Thomas de Mowbray. Its miniatures resemble closely others surviving in manuscripts decorated for the monks of Westminster Abbey as well as a few linked to Richard II, who apparently was an outstanding royal patron of painters. The Wilton Diptych (in the National Gallery, London), probably his personal devotional shrine, represents him before English royal saints adoring the Virgin and Child. By the letter copied here, Thomas de Mowbray was appointed Marshal of England in 1386. In the historiated initial (first letter bearing a picture), Thomas, wearing the red and white Mowbray surcoat, is shown receiving the letter from Richard II. In 1398 Thomas, along with Henry Bolingbroke (the future Henry IV), was banished as a result of a feud rooted in long-standing rivalries. He died a year later in Venice, all of his offices forfeited, while Henry returned to England, had Richard imprisoned, and became king.

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