A 14th-century Book of Hours.

Books of Hours were popular books of devotion during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Luxurious copies with rich decorations were highly appreciated by royal and aristocratic patrons.

Four apparent owner portraits of a crowned woman indicate that this Book of Hours was most likely made for a royal woman (ff. 7r, 18r, 139r, 188v; digitised images 1, 2, 12, 28). Suggestions for her identity have included: Isabella of France (1295–1358), wife of Edward II; one of Isabella and Edward’s daughters, Eleanor (1318–1355) or Joan (1321–1362); or Philippa of Hainault (c. 1310/15–1369), wife of Edward III.

The manuscript features an unusually rich scheme of decoration, including cycles of images in the lower margin of nearly every page, with 384 scenes in total. These depict episodes from chivalric romance, saints’ lives, Holy Scripture, morality tales and hunting scenes.

View images of the entire manuscripts via our Digitised Manuscripts website.