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[English Manuscript 1 Siege of Troy  opening page, Lydgate presenting his work to Henry V]

English MS 1

John Lydgate, The Siege of Troy, mid 15th century

Size: 450 x 325 mm. ii + 174 + iii folios.

A large and richly-decorated mid fifteenth-century manuscript of John Lydgate's Siege of Troy. The Troy Book, or Siege of Troy, was one of the most ambitious attempts in medieval vernacular poetry to recount the story of the Trojan war. He began composing the poem in October 1412 on commission from Henry, Prince of Wales (the future King Henry V), with the express purpose of ensuring that the great epic about the Trojan War could be read in the English vernacular. He completed it in 1420. The work is a translation and expansion of Guido delle Colonne's Historia destructionis Troiae.

There are five pictures in the text space before the prologue and books 2-5, and more or less large pictures in 64 margins. Among the miniatures are a painting of Lydgate presenting his work to Henry V on folio 1r; a detailed painting of the 'Wheel of Fortune' on folio 28v; the funeral of Hector on folio 109v; and the arms of the Carent family on a red ground hatched in gold, with floral ornament and a frame, on folio 173r.

The manuscript belonged to the Carent family of Somerset in the 15th century; later passed to the Mundy family of Markeaton Hall, Derbyshire; then to John Somers, Baron Somers, and was sold in Somers-Jekyll sale of 1739. In the 19th century it was owned by Henry Perkins and the 26th Earl of Crawford.

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