This previous month, on the eve of the June twenty second feast of St Alban, the library of Trinity Faculty Dublin introduced that it had digitized the “thirteenth century masterpiece” the Ebook of St Alban, a richly illustrated manuscript that “options 54 particular person works of medieval artwork and has fascinated readers throughout the centuries, from royalty to renaissance students.”
Created by the Benedictine monk Matthew Paris, the manuscript “chronicles the lifetime of St Alban,” notes The Irish Instances, “and likewise outlines the development of St Alban’s Cathedral in Hertfordshire.” The textual content and illustrations clarify the origins of a cult of St. Alban, the primary English martyr, that started to spring up after his 4th century loss of life.
In response to the Venerable Bede, the English monk who wrote the Ecclesiastical Historical past of the English Individuals, the martyrdom of Alban concerned a number of miraculous occasions. Sentenced to die for his refusal to surrender Christianity, Alban supposedly petitioned God to dry up the River Ver so he might extra shortly attain the place of his execution.
This miracle prompted Alban’s Roman executioner to fall to his ft, spontaneously convert, and refuse to kill the saint. A second executioner stepped in to behead them each, whereupon this man’s eyes popped out of his head. “He who gave the depraved stroke,” writes Bede, “was not permitted to rejoice over the deceased; for his eyes dropped upon the bottom along with the blessed martyr’s head.”
Within the illustration of this grisly story (prime) from the manuscript, we see the executioner holding his eyes in his hand, and Alban’s head seems to have been caught by the hair on a tree department above. One other illustration, additional up, reveals a personality named Heraclius making off with Alban’s head.
In a later legend, Alban’s head rolled to the underside of Holywell Hill, and a properly sprang from the place it got here to relaxation. On the supposed website of Alban’s execution now stands St Albans Cathedral, as soon as St Albans Abbey, the place the Ebook of St Albans remained for 300 years till Henry VIII dissolved Britain’s monasteries in 1539.
The ebook is written in each Latin and Anglo-Norman French, “which made it accessible to a wider secular viewers together with educated noble ladies,” Trinity Faculty’s Caoimhe Ni Lochlainn writes. “It was borrowed by noble women of the interval, together with the King’s sister-in-law Countess of Cornwall, Sanchia of Provence, and others.”
The manuscript ultimately made its solution to Trinity Faculty Dublin in 1661, the place it has remained ever since, and the place its “principally framed narrative scenes” have been admired by a choose few. Now everybody can entry the ebook and its illustrations, made with a “tinted drawing approach,” Lochlainn notes, “the place outlined drawings are highlighted with coloured washes from a restricted palette. This system was distinctly English, courting again to the Anglo Saxon artwork of the tenth century.”
See all of the grisly particulars of this fascinating artifact at Trinity Faculty Dublin’s Digital Collections, and study extra concerning the manuscript within the video simply above.
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