This Royal manuscripts illumination comes from a medieval copy of a selection of 166 poems written by Charles d’Orleans during his captivity in England from 1415–1440. Charles, who was in the line of succession to the French throne, was taken captive after the Battle of Agincourt and spent the next 25 years in confinement in various castles, where he authored more than 500 poems in both French and English.
This illumination shows Charles writing and despatching a letter from the White Tower at the Tower of London. Other recognisable features include the Custom’s House, Traitor’s Gate – the entrance to the Tower from the River Thames – and London Bridge, with the City of London beyond. This view represents the reception of Italian techniques of aerial perspective in Northern Europe in the 15th century. In the different scenes, the artist shows off London’s military strength and fortitude, as well as its mercantile wealth as a centre of trade, depicted by the busy Thames flowing past the Custom’s House and the bridge connecting the city and the South.
- Full title:
- Charles d'Orleans, Poetry; Pseudo-Heloise, Epistles; 'Les demands d'amours'; 'Le livre dit grace entiere'
- c. 1450–99, London
- Charles d'Orleans
- Usage terms
Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.
- Held by
- British Library
- Royal MS 16 F II
- Article by:
- Alixe Bovey
Medieval towns were vibrant hubs of activity, housing an array of people from political and spiritual leaders to traders, craftsmen, inn-keepers and brothel owners. Here, Dr Alixe Bovey explores what went on inside city walls.
- Article by:
- Ann Payne
- Transforming topography, Antiquarianism
When does topography begin? Ann Payne, former Curator of Manuscripts at the British Library, describes early examples of topographical views from the British Library’s collections.