Aristotle advising a king on piety, in Pseudo-Aristotle's 'About the Secrets of Secrets'
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
Believed in the middle ages to be Aristotle's letter to Alexander the Great, 'About the Secrets of Secrets' concerns government and is a Latin translation of an Arabic work. A London scribe and King's Clerk, Walter of Milemete, and a team of artists probably made this richly decorated copy in 1326-1327. Milemete intended it to accompany his own treatise on royal virtues for presentation to Edward III. The 'Secrets' was owned by the Earls of Leicester, at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, from the 17th to the 20th centuries.
The text advises the ruler on every virtue. Here royal piety is depicted. A king and queen pray before a representation of Christ as the ruler of the world enthroned in heaven with angels and the four animals which appear in the visions of Ezekiel and the Book of Revelations--a reference to the apocalypse and the king's role the overall scheme of Christian history. The richly decorated border, with mermaid and royal heraldry, underscores the ruler theme.