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Christ Before Herod, in a Cornish Passion Poem

Christ Before Herod, in a Cornish Passion Poem

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1450

Shelfmark: Harley MS 1782

Item number: f.10r

Length: 17.1

Width: 12

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript

Thought to have been found in Sancreed church, this manuscript contains a Passion poem in Middle Cornish. The people of medieval Cornwall loved Passion plays, and there can be no doubt that the words of this poem were enacted and recited many times over the years. Its verses are marked for reading aloud using square brackets at the ends of lines to indicate the parts of the characters. The lower margins of eleven of its pages bear illustrations of the action or themes of the play. The coloured drawings represent a version of 15th-century manuscript decoration as produced outside major centres such as London and Oxford. The play is a valuable document of the variety of language, culture and religion in late medieval Britain.

The poem maximises the evil character, motivations and intentions of the authorities before whom Christ was taken for judgement, contrasting their cruelty and corruption with Jesus' steadfastness and honesty. This page has Christ before Herod, who sits on his throne, a crowned figure holding a sword.

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