• Beyond Private Matter: A Prayer Roll for Queen Margaret of Anjou

    Sonja Drimmer (see profile)
    Illumination of books and manuscripts, England, Middle Ages, Feminism and art, History
    Item Type:
    Illuminated manuscripts, Medieval studies, Medieval England, Feminist art history
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    A prayer roll made for Margaret of Anjou (1430–1482), queen consort to Henry VI of England, has received little attention despite its production for a queen Shakespeare called the “shewolf of France.” Previous descriptions have characterized the roll as a conventional display of female piety and evidence of Margaret’s devotion to the Virgin Mary. However, closer attention reveals that, far from being conventional, the roll is an anomalous object on a number of counts. It is the only known illuminated roll devoted to the Virgin; its specific representation of the Virgin and Child is unprecedented; it contains none of the typical instructions to the devotee to place the roll close to the body; and it is nearly twice as wide as the average prayer roll. This article revises our understanding of the Margaret of Anjou roll by comparing it to a range of material beyond the intimate devotional objects to which it has been related previously. Consideration of the historical circumstances of Margaret’s arrival in England, records describing a ceremonial pageant that honored her, and objects associated with her highlights the political stakes attendant on Margaret’s assimilation of a Marian exemplar. Embodying features of the genealogical rolls disseminated in support of her husband, the Margaret of Anjou roll asserts a Marian genealogy for the queen tantamount to the monarchic lineages that legitimized her husband. By intertwining both Marian and genealogic discourse, the roll articulates how Margaret of Anjou was integral to the welfare of England.
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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