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Martin Thompson

This article proposes that Manchester, John Rylands Library, Latin MS 165 was an ‘accessory text’ produced and gifted within the Tudor court and passed down by matrilineal transmission within the influential Fortescue family. It proposes that from the text’s conception, the book of devotions participated in various projects of self-definition, including Henry VII’s campaign for the canonisation of his Lancastrian ancestor, Henry VI. By analysing visual and textual evidence, it posits that later female owners imitated the use of marginal spaces by the book’s original scribe and illuminator. Finally, it traces the book’s ownership back from its acquisition by the John Rylands Library to the viscounts Gage, in whose custody the book underwent a transformation from potentially subversive tool of female devotion to obscure historical artefact.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library