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Sardanapalus Spinning, In John Lydgate's 'The Fall Of Princes'

Sardanapalus Spinning, In John Lydgate's 'The Fall Of Princes'

Medium: Ink, pigments and gold on vellum

Date: 1455

Shelfmark: Harley MS 1766

Item number: f.116r

Length: 30

Width: 20.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

John Lydgate (c.1370-c.1450) was probably born at Lidgate in Suffolk; he became a monk of Bury St. Edmunds aged 15, a priest in 1397, and during a long life was a remarkably prolific writer of English verse. 'The Fall of Princes' is a translation into English, made in about 1438/9, of a French work of c.1409, which was itself a translation of a mid 14th-century work in Latin by an Italian, Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-75). It concerns men who rise to great power, and their subsequent downfall: a warning to readers of the fickle nature of fate. Sardanapalus was an Assyrian monarch who lived in great luxury, and spent time effeminately spinning wool with his concubines. One of his governors, on catching sight of him like this, plotted against him and brought about his death.

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