Reflecting the place of the Bible as the bedrock of medieval culture, biblical imagery was ubiquitous in medieval England, yet it has not hitherto been the subject of a comprehensive modern monograph. Such precedents as there were – notably M. R. James’s The Apocalypse in Art (London: British Academy, 1931) and F. Wormald’s ‘Bible Illustration in Medieval Manuscripts’, in G. W. H.
How do you write the history of buildings? This is not merely a rhetorical question, but a very real problem for anyone whose primary source material is timber or stone structures. The difficulty is that it is necessary to infer intent and function from objects which cannot speak and for which there is little written evidence.
Karen Overbey’s monograph is undoubtedly a welcome addition to the weighty collection of (predominantly antiquarian) archaeo- / art-historical studies focusing on medieval Irish relics and reliquaries, a healthy proportion of which is judiciously consolidated and summarised throughout the book.
As this book begins (p. 1), the author marvels how the art of the Wycliffite Bible, one of the most popular books in late medieval England, has not been studied systematically. The answer lies in the historiography of the Wycliffite Bible. Kennedy suggests that the ‘Shadow of the Reformation’ has created a binary view of Wycliffite Bibles, linking them to heresy and illegality.
You may think you know the story of the Tudor dynasty and the steps they took in securing their power and legacy, but what most grand narratives of the Tudor monarchs do not describe is their intimate relationship with the built environment around them.