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The Martyrdom of Thomas Becket, In A Psalter

The Martyrdom of Thomas Becket, In A Psalter

Medium: Ink, pigments and gold on vellum

Date: 1225

Shelfmark: Harley MS 5102

Item number: f.32r

Length: 31.3

Width: 21.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Five full-page miniatures have been inserted as single leaves into this 13th-century Psalter, but they are in a different, older style, and are probably re-used from a 12th-century manuscript. There is no trace of a calendar or litany, and lacking any liturgical evidence, the manuscript has been tentatively attributed to the East Midlands. Several details of this image follow eye-witness accounts of Becket's death. Becket kneels before the altar; one of the four knights, perhaps William de Tracy, delivers the first blow, which cuts into the arm of Edward Grim, the cross-bearer; Reginald FitzUrse (identified by the muzzled bear on his shield) strikes the top of Becket's head.

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