The political appropriation of Lydgate’s Fall of Princes: a manuscript study of British Library, MS Harley 1766

Pittaway, Sarah Louise ORCID: 0000-0001-6421-3871 (2011). The political appropriation of Lydgate’s Fall of Princes: a manuscript study of British Library, MS Harley 1766. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis offers the first extended study of British Library, MS Harley 1766 (c. 1450-60), an illustrated and much abridged version of Lydgate’s Fall of Princes (c. 1431-1438/39). Offering a holistic analysis of text, image, and paratextual features, it argues that the manuscript was the product of a Lydgate specialist and a team of associated artisans operating within Bury St. Edmunds during the 1450s and 1460s. Individual chapters explore the manuscript’s concern with promoting both Lydgate and Bury and identify a distinct rhetoric of idealised and stereotyped kings and queens, developed by the rearranged text and amplified through the design of the visual scheme. This thesis reads these motifs against Yorkist propaganda which fêted Edward IV and condemned both Henry VI and his queen, Margaret of Anjou. The connection between Yorkist propagandist themes and Harley 1766 is a direct result of the probable patronage of the manuscript by the Tyrell family, an East Anglian gentry family whose names repeatedly appear on the manuscript’s flyleaves. Commissioned as a direct response to their position as supporters of a deposed regime, Harley 1766 represents a political re-envisaging of the text designed for patrons seeking to realign themselves politically and ensure their safety in Yorkist England.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D111 Medieval History
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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