Two Monks Kneeling Before St. Edmund, In John Lydgate's 'The Fall Of Princes'
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
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.
St. Edmund is shown enthroned as a king, and with the halo of a martyr, holding an arrow, his usual emblem. The kneeling figures may be intended to represent the monks of Bury St. Edmunds in a general way, or may be intended to represent specific people, such as Lydgate himself.