Gender, Piety, and Production in Fourteenth-Century English Apocalypse Manuscripts  book cover
1st Edition

Gender, Piety, and Production in Fourteenth-Century English Apocalypse Manuscripts

ISBN 9781138352698
Published November 21, 2018 by Routledge
182 Pages 5 Color & 80 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Gender, Piety, and Production in Fourteenth-Century English Apocalypse Manuscripts is the first in-depth study of three textually and iconographically diverse Apocalypses illustrated in England in the first half of the fourteenth century by a single group of artists. It offers a close look at a group of illuminators previously on the fringe of art historical scholarship, challenging the commonly-held perception of them as mere craftsmen at a time when both audiences and methods of production were becoming increasingly varied. Analyzing the manuscripts’ codicological features, visual and textual programmes, and social contexts, it explores the mechanisms of a fourteenth-century commercial workshop and traces the customization of these books of the same genre to the needs and expectations of varied readers, revealing the crucial influence of their female audience. The book will be of interest to scholars and students of English medieval art, medieval manuscripts, and the medieval Apocalypse, as well as medievalists interested in late medieval spirituality and theology, medieval religious and intellectual culture, book patronage and ownership, and female patronage and ownership.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



A Fourteenth-Century Group of English Apocalypse Illuminators

Workshop Practice and the Question of Authorship

Compilation and Readership

Chapter 1. Seeing with Spiritual Eyes: The Pepys Apocalypse

A Workshop Model

Seeing with ‘Spiritual Eyes’

Eucharistic Devotion and Bridal Mysticism

‘Le bon prelat’

The Pepys Apocalypse and the Cura Monialium


Chapter 2. A Book Designed for a Lady: The Selden Apocalypse

The Owner of the Book

A Book for Teaching

The Illuminator as Compiler

A Literal Apocalypse

Tying Évangile to Apocalypse: Alpha and Omega


Chapter 3. Knowledge and Ascent: The Brussels Apocalypse

The Lumere as lais

Knowledge and Ascent

‘Seint Pol le apostre’ and the Moral Emphasis

Close Relations

The Brussels Apocalypse as an Exemplar and Mental Substitute for a Lost Image

More Images in the Margins


Chapter 4. Concluding Remarks: The Care of Souls and the Artist as Author

Diverse Readers and the Care of Souls

Customized Practices and Questions of Authorship



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Renana Bartal is Senior Lecturer in the Art History department at Tel Aviv University, Israel.


"By interrogating difference rather than seeking similarities, this study offers a valuable new perspective on the later English Apocalypse tradition. It challenges perceptions of illuminators as rude craftsmen, highlights the cultural patronage and intellectual interests of a diverse range of fourteenth-century audiences, and explores the multiple textual, social, devotional and pastoral contexts in which fourteenth-century Apocalypse manuscripts can be sited with great insight and expertise."

--Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art and Architecture

"Bartal’s contribution has immense value in that it turns a close, even microscopic lens on a group of little-studied manuscripts that, despite their restricted geographic scope, their shared pool of illuminators, and their less-than-luxurious production values, illustrate the sheer variability of devotional book production and consumption in one small region of Europe in the fourteenth century."

--Studies in Iconography

"The result is an impressively scholarly and original work which offers invaluable insights into the dissemination and reception of pastoral material in the vernacular in the fourteenth century, especially amongst female readers, and significantly advances our understanding of the uses and importance of Apocalypse material in the period."

--Medium Aevum