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Holkham Picture Bible, 1327-1335AD


Title: Bible (the 'Holkham Bible Picture Book')
Date: c 1327-1335
Content: A biblical picture book with explanatory text of varying length, sometimes in rhyming couplets, in Anglo-Norman French, with some English.
Ownership: Origin; England, S.E. (London?). Provenance; An unknown Dominican friar probably commissioned this work: the first image is of a friar saying to the artist 'Ore feres bien e nettement car mustre serra a riche gent' (Now do it well and thoroughly, for it will be shown to important people); to which the scribe replies 'Si frai voyre, e Deux me doynt vivre, Unkes ne veyses un autretel livre' (So I will, and if God grant me life, you will never see a better book than mine) (f. 1r).
British Library Manuscript Additional 47682.



Contents:
f. 14v, Miracles during the journey to Egypt (from the gospel of Pseudo-Matthew): the holy family pass by two men sowing corn; the miracle of the growing corn, with Herod's soldiers interrogating the sower while the corn has already grown.
f. 16v, Herod kills his sons; he falls ill; he imprisons the nobles.
f. 17r, Herod's suicide; the death of the nobles; the succession of Archelaus; the Holy Family warned to return; the Virgin and Child with an apple.
f. 31v, Christ nailed to the cross, with the two thieves watching; Christ's garments divided among knights casting lots; Pilate writes his superscription 'Ih[es]u de Nazarez, rey de iuyis'.
f. 40r, Two mounted kings and their knights do battle against one another; below, the commoners fight each other with bucklers, swords, sticks and axes.

A biblical picture book with explanatory text of varying length, sometimes in rhyming couplets, in Anglo-Norman French, with some English. The material covers Genesis from Creation to Noah (ff. 1-9), the Life of Christ from the Annunciation (preceded by genealogies of Mary and Jesus) to the Ascension (ff. 10-38) and the fifteen signs of the Day of Judgement with some introductory material (ff. 39-42), (Dean, Anglo-Norman Literature , 1999, no. 472).
Source: British Library - Explore Archives and Manuscripts



Referenced as figure 218 in Arms and Armour of the Crusading Era, 1050-1350, Western Europe and the Crusader States by David Nicolle.
218A-D Holkham Picture Bible, East Anglia c.l320-30
(British Library, Ms. Add. 47682, London, England)

A — ‘Sickness of Herod’, f.16v; B-C — ‘Questioning of the Sower’, f.14v; D — ‘Murder of Nobles’, f.17. One figure (D) is clearly an ‘exotic’, his headgear probably being based on conventional images of Asiatics. Other pictures show men in mail hauberks and chausses (A and D). A very large bascinet with a neck extension that almost qualifies as a salet (A) looks more Italian than English. The wearer seems to be wielding a long-headed mace. Another infantry warrior (B) has a helmet that appears to be midway between a great helm with a movable visor and a visored bascinet. He also leans on a long-hafted, long-bladed weapon with a substantial spike at the back. Such a weapon might be a guisarme or a very early form of halbard. Another long-hafted weapon is the axe (D) with a swept back blade and a small spike at the back.






See also The brass of John de Creke, 1325. St Mary the Less, Westley Waterless, Cambridgeshire, England.
Other 14th Century Illustrations of Costume and Soldiers