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Zoomorphic Initial, In 'The Encomium Of Queen Emma' f.2r

Zoomorphic Initial, In 'The Encomium Of Queen Emma' f.2r

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1050

Shelfmark: Additional MS 33241

Item number: f.2r

Length: 17.3-00-00 00:00:00

Width: 11.5-00-00 00:00:00

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Illuminated manuscript

Emma of Normandy, twice Queen by her successive marriages to Aethelred II and Cnut, spent part of her life in exile under the protection of Count Baldwin of Flanders. To help promote the interests of her sons, Harthacnut and Edward (who became 'the Confessor'), she commissioned an exaggeratedly flattering biography of Cnut and herself around the time of Harthacnut's succession (1040). The 'Encomium' (panegyric or lofty praise) is an important early example of biography written in secular interests, in a period when 'lives' promoted sainthood, as well as providing a rare 11th-century narrative history. The only surviving medieval manuscript of the Encomium, this copy was made in Normandy, probably at St Omer and possibly for Emma herself. The prologue, addressed to Queen Emma, begins with its first letter taking the form of a fantastic dragon-like beast. In the mid-11th century style of northern France, the relatively naturalistic drawing of fur and hints of the creature's three-dimensional mass resemble decoration of contemporary manuscripts in Anglo-Saxon England. The two areas had close artistic and political ties in this period just before the Norman invasion.

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