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Illuminated manuscripts of English royalty on display


The British Library is having an exhibition, starting on November 11, of illuminated manuscripts that used to belong to England’s queens and kings, reports the Guardian.

It is a remarkable collection: 154 of the books are on display from a collection of more than 2,000, collected by kings from Athelstan, who described himself as the first king of Britain in the mid-10th century, to Henry VIII. That they have survived in excellent condition is largely due to the fact that George II donated many of them to the nation in 1757 and more came from a collection gathered by his grandson, George III. Their successor, the Queen, is touring the exhibition on Thursday.

On show are bestiaries, bibles, prayer books, histories, fiction, and even a princely instruction manual advising how a prince should behave. It was given to Henry V while he was acting as regent for his father in 1410. If my memory serves me right, the young prince regent won his spurs in battle by beating the French a few times a long time before his famous victory at Agincourt.

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Richard Davies

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