The Deaths of Kings and Political Propaganda in the Bruts Epitome of British Library MS Egerton 3028

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Abstract

Certain monarchs have gone down in history, or at least in popular memory, as ‘bad kings’; for instance, among the medieval kings of England, we find ‘bad king John’ and ‘weak king Edward II’. These are among the kings whose memory is preserved in a remarkable text, extant only in British Library MS Egerton 3028. This unusual codex from the mid-fourteenth century contains three texts, all abbreviated: a Brut; and two chansons de geste (La Destruction de Rome and Fierabras). It is one of a small number of illuminated Anglo-Norman vernacular manuscripts described by art historian Alison Stones as belonging to ‘a special category of densely illustrated secular manuscripts made between c. 1250 and 1350 in England for patrons, mostly anonymous, who were particularly interested in historical, hagiographical and literary works in Latin and French’. The narrative of the Brut is extended down to the time of Edward III and his expedition to France in 1338-39, at the beginning of The Hundred Years’ War. There are 53 illuminations in the Brut section; of the last five, four show the funeral shrine or tomb of later kings, including the funeral procession of King John (f.61) and the tomb of Edward II (f.63). This article will explore how the treatment of the deaths and burials of kings in the Brut, the first text in the codex, contributes to political propaganda in the volume as a whole.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-58
JournalReading Medieval Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018

Keywords

  • chronicle
  • medieval manuscripts
  • Medieval Literature
  • kingship

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