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A Lancastrian Mirror for Princes

The Yale Law School New Statutes of England

Rosemarie McGerr

Publication Year: 2011

This seminal study addresses one of the most beautifully decorated 15th-century copies of the New Statutes of England, uncovering how the manuscript's unique interweaving of legal, religious, and literary discourses frames the reader's perception of the work. Taking internal and external evidence into account, Rosemarie McGerr suggests that the manuscript was made for Prince Edward of Lancaster, transforming a legal reference work into a book of instruction in kingship, as well as a means of celebrating the Lancastrians' rightful claim to the English throne during the Wars of the Roses. A Lancastrian Mirror for Princes also explores the role played by the manuscript as a commentary on royal justice and grace for its later owners and offers modern readers a fascinating example of the long-lasting influence of medieval manuscripts on subsequent readers.

Published by: Indiana University Press

CONTENTS

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pp. ix-

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PREFACE

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pp. xi-xv

In the portrait of the "Sergeant of the Lawe" in the Prologue to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the narrator includes the information that this pilgrim can cite every statute from memory -- an impressive professional credential, to be sure -- yet the irony of the passage might make us wonder what this accomplishment...

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INTRODUCTION: The Margin and the Center

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pp. 1-13

Among the rare books in Yale Law School's Lillian Goldman Library is a fifteenth-century manuscript of the Nova statuta Angliae or New Statutes of England, covering the period from 1327 until 1484.1 While significant as a record of medieval laws, the manuscript is even more important for the...

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Chapter One. The Yale New Statutes Manuscript and Medieval English Statute Books: Similarities and Differences

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pp. 14-39

The Yale Law School manuscript of the Nova statuta Angliae (Goldman Library MS MssG St11 no.1) contains almost four hundred leaves, so it offers many margins and centers for readers to explore. Modern readers coming to a manuscript copy of a medieval text discover the complexity and the potenti...

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Chapter Two. Royal Portraits and Royal Arms: The Iconography of the Yale New Statutes Manuscript

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pp. 40-74

Our comparison of the Yale Law School manuscript of the New Statutes of England with other English statutes manuscripts shows that two important features distinguish it from other surviving copies of this text: its inclusion of Margaret of Anjou's coat of arms in its border decoration (plates 1--3)...

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Chapter Three. The Queen and the Lancastrian Cause: The Yale New Statutes Manuscript and Margaret of Anjou

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pp. 75-101

The appearance of Margaret of Anjou's arms in the border decoration of three leaves in the Yale Law School manuscript of the Nova statuta Angliae (plates 1--3) is undeniable evidence that the manuscript was commissioned by a supporter of the Lancastrian monarchy who chose to link Henry VI...

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Chapter Four Educating the Prince: The Yale New Statutes Manuscript and Lancastrian Mirrors for Princes

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pp. 102-121

Decorated with the arms of both of Edward of Lancaster's parents, offering portraits of his royal English forebears, and including the introductory treatises and index to the statutes, the Yale Nova statuta Angliae would have been a particularly appropriate copy of the Statutes of the Realm for the young prince....

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Chapter Five. "Grace Be Our Guide": The Cultural Significance of a Medieval Law Book [Contains Color Plates]

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pp. 122-139

All indications are that the Yale New Statutes manuscript was still in production when the Lancastrian line of kings came to an end in May 1471. Only with the death of Henry VI would a scribe who was working on a statutes manuscript for a Lancastrian owner enter the rubric on fol. 356v: "Expliciunt...

APPENDIX I. Chronology of Events

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pp. 141-144

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APPENDIX 2. Codicological Description of New Haven, Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library MssG St11 no.1

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pp. 145-159

This manuscript has 392 vellum leaves, approximately 180 mm by 250 mm in size. Small holes appear in a few leaves (e.g., fols. 100 and 116). Truncated decoration in the outer and top margins of several leaves resulted from trimming during preparation for binding (plates 1 and 2). One paper pastedown...

Notes

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pp. 161-174

Bibliography and Manuscripts Cited

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pp. 175-196

Index

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pp. 197-212


E-ISBN-13: 9780253001986
E-ISBN-10: 0253001986
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253356413

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 56 color illus., 24 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2011