Click here to skip to content

Marginal Notes And Hunting Fox, In John de Breton's English Laws

Marginal Notes And Hunting Fox, In John de Breton's English Laws

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1305

Shelfmark: Harley MS 324

Item number: f.4r

Length: 25

Width: 14.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Related images

1 2
At the order of Edward I, John de Breton, Bishop of Hereford (1268-1275), compiled tracts of English law in French. One of the greatest medieval English lawyers, John de Breton produced the work about 1275, just before his death. His legal compilation was part of the programmes of the king, one of whose most important accomplishments was his legal reform. John de Breton's book is written in French, the language of the Plantagenet king and the nobility. This manuscript copy of it is decorated in a general, contemporary style, the animals and scenes adding an entertaining and slightly luxurious note to its borders rather than having any relation to the text. In it an inscription states that it belonged to the small Cistercian Abbey of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at Merevale, near Atherston. Medieval readers were not being disrespectful when they wrote notes in the margins of books, as seen down the outer margin of this page from the law manuscript. Marginal notes were a way of updating and correcting the content of a book. In the top margin, the author, "Breton", is identified. In the lower margin one of many pair of animals which decorate the book play out a small drama. A red-tongued fox is about to pounce upon a large bird biding its time in a shallow ditch.

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: