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Art, Identity, and Devotion in Fourteenth Century England

Three Women Patrons and Their Books of Hours (British Library Studies in Medieval Culture)

Kathryn A. Smith


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Hardcover (12/27/2003)


Art, Identity, and Devotion in Fourteenth-Century England is the first major study of three profusely illustrated, textually diverse books of hours, the De Lisle, De Bois, and Neville of Hornby Hours, all of which were made for three English laywomen: Margaret de Beauchamp, the wife of a baron and loyal royal servant; Hawisia de Bois, a member of a distinguished knightly family; and Isabel de Byron, the matriarch of a rising gentry family.

Through detailed analysis of the manuscripts' visual and textual programs, and by embedding the books within a rich interpretive context constructed from religious and secular literature, sermons, and a broad range of artistic and historical evidence, Kathryn A. Smith examines how the three books mediated the devotional experience of their owners and constructed and confirmed their sense of personal, familial, local, and social identity. The study explores the potential functions of illustrated books of hours - as vehicles for penitent self-examination, familial, and dynastic commemoration and legitimation, and instruction of one's children - and reveals how the manuscripts' contents and design accommodated these functions. Art, Identity, and Devotion in Fourteenth-Century England offers new insights into the issues of female patronage and book ownership, lay literacy, and the roles and uses of imagery in later medieval religion.

University of Toronto Press, 9780802086914, 350pp.

Publication Date: February 28, 2004