The three living and the three dead princes, from the 'De Lisle Psalter'


This is an illustration of the moral story The Three Living and the Three Dead in which three figures, often aristocratic and flaunting their vitality, meet three corpses who warn them about the inevitability of death. The numerous variations of this story and their accompanying illustrations provide a stark contrast between the beauty of the living and the worm-eaten corpses of the deceased. Moral messages about the importance of living a virtuous life on Earth are typical amongst Psalters and Book of Hours.

Full title:
Psalter and Hours (the 'Howard Psalter') and Psalter (the 'De Lisle Psalter')
c. 1308 - 40
Manuscript / Illustration
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Arundel MS 83 II

Full catalogue details

Related articles

Death and the afterlife: how dying affected the living

Article by:
Alixe Bovey

Images of the afterlife dominate illuminated manuscripts, paintings, sculptures and literature in the Middle Ages. Dr Alixe Bovey examines how ideas of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory impacted on everday life.

Related collection items