Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hoccleve, The Regiment of Princes

Cross posted from Monstrous Beauty

This is a presentation miniature from a manuscript of Hoccleve's, The Regiment of Princes (British Library, Arundel 38, Folio 37 recto). Hoccleve wrote The Regiment for Henry V shortly before his accession to the throne as a homily on virtues and vices. The introductory portion of the poem contains reminiscences of London tavern life, and calls on Sir John Oldcastle, "rise up, a manly knight, out of the slough of heresy." (The heresey being Lollardy.) Oldcastle was an old friend of the Henry V, who Henry eventually had executed for treason and who served as the model for Shakespeare's Falstaff. Hoccleve also took work as a scribe and worked with Adam Pinkhurst, who in 2004 was identified as Chaucer's Adam scrivener.

This miniature is often identified as Hoccleve presenting the book to Henry. But the man presenting the book is very well dressed, much more so than would be expected of a scribe, so it may represent John Mowbry, Duke of Norfolk, presenting the book to Henry. Norfolk was an early owner of the manuscript and his coat of arms are in the initial below the miniature. This is the only miniature in the manuscript. Other decoration includes three sided borders and illuminated initials.

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