Advising France through the Example of England: Visual Narrative in the Livre de la prinse et mort du roy Richart (Harl. MS. 1319)
Hedeman, Anne D.
The Electronic British Library Journal (2011)
Some time between November 1401 and March 1402 Jean Creton wrote an eyewitness account of King Richard II’s deposition in 1399. Around 1405 Duke John of Berry, the uncle of the French King Charles VI, was given the only richly illuminated copy of the text to survive. This article examines the visual narrative of Harl. MS. 1319 both as it interacts with Creton’s text and as it resonated with members of the highly visually cultured French courtly audience.
After analysing the textual structure of Creton’s unusual combination of verse and prose, this article suggests that the images were planned both to reinforce its eyewitness character and to place special emphasis on the absence of legitimate kingship in England after Richard’s deposition. At a moment in the early fifteenth century when the French king was ineffectual and civil unrest was brewing, Richard’s downfall offered a powerful example to the French aristocracy.