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Contents The Luttrell Psalter The Luttrell Psalter is probably one of the most famous medieval illuminated manuscripts. It was commissioned by Sir Geoffrey.

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Presentation on theme: "Contents The Luttrell Psalter The Luttrell Psalter is probably one of the most famous medieval illuminated manuscripts. It was commissioned by Sir Geoffrey."— Presentation transcript:


2 Contents The Luttrell Psalter The Luttrell Psalter is probably one of the most famous medieval illuminated manuscripts. It was commissioned by Sir Geoffrey Luttrell ( ), a wealthy English landowner who lived at Irnham, Lincolnshire. A psalter is a book of psalms – a collection of songs in the Bible - usually decorated with pictures of saints and biblical scenes. The Luttrell Psalter also contains a calendar, and the music and words for some canticles or hymns. The wonderful illustrations contained in the Luttrell Psalter are a primary source for medieval life. They also contain hidden signs and symbols which can be investigated to answer many questions about politics, religion and the role of women in medieval England. The pages are illustrated not only the usual pictures of saints and biblical scenes; but also amazing beasts and scenes of ordinary people at work and play. These images are painted in rich colours and embellished with gold and silver. Click Here to see a video in which scenes from the Luttrell Psalter are re-enacted... Click on the cover to open the Luttrell Psalter & find out more … Part 1 – The Luttrell Family & Politics

3 Contents The Luttrell Family Introduction The Feast Sir Geoffrey the Knight All images from the Luttrell Psalter are reproduced courtesy of The British Library Politics The Grotesques The Beaten Husband? The Execution The Politics behind the Pictures Acknowledgments

4 Contents Introduction to the meanings behind the images in the Luttrell Psalter The Luttrell Psalter is a unique record of 14 th century life, showing images of Lincolnshire life, religious and political scenes and wonderful grotesques. Click Here to see a video in which Professor Michelle Brown explains the meaning behind the Luttrell Psalter. The many images are more than just pretty pictures however – they have a deeper meaning waiting to be uncovered. Click here to see more images

5 Contents The Feast Image taken from Psalm ff.207v Courtesy of The British Library The Psalter gives an insight into the everyday life of a medieval baron. Here the Luttrell family are shown eating a meal, sitting at the high table. Sir Geoffery Luttrell sits in the centre of the high table. To his right is his wife, and to his left is his two sons and another female (probably his daughter). They have two guests – both in holy orders. Two other male figures wait at table, bringing dishes to eat and towels to wipe their fingers. Click on the picture to find out more. What Does It Mean?

6 Contents The Feast Image taken from Psalm ff.207v Courtesy of The British Library Food & Dishes The food and plates shown on the table are intended to show the family’s wealth and status. They are eating roast chickens and suckling pig, served on silver platters. The Luttrells would have eaten large quantities of meat, including game, which would have been hunted on the family estate but very little fruit or vegetables. Although the food is served from silver dishes it is eaten from 'trenchers' made of stale bread and although there are knives and spoons on the table, they are eating with their fingers, forks had yet to be introduced to England. The previous page shows the food being prepared by Sir Geoffrey’s cook – John of Bridgeford. Back

7 Contents The Feast Image taken from Psalm ff.207v Courtesy of The British Library The People This appears to be a special feast. The tapestry behind the diners shows the coat of arms of Sir Geoffrey, so it is likely that the people shown are the various members of the Luttrell family. Sir Geoffrey is seated in the centre, wearing an elaborate hat and his wife Agnes is to his right. The other lady is probably his daughter-in-law Beatrice with Andrew and his other son next to him. On far right are two friars, their black and white habits show that they are Dominican or 'Black Friars' devoted to preaching and study. Written documents record that the Luttrell family had two Dominicans - Robert of Wilford and John of Lafford - attached to the household as family chaplains. One of their duties was to chant aloud each week all 150 of the Psalms in the Psalter. Threy may also have been involved with the creation of the Psalter – writing some of the text and drawing or specifying the content of some of the images. Back

8 Contents The Feast Image taken from Psalm ff.207v Courtesy of The British Library The Servants Two male figures wait at table, bringing dishes to eat and towels to wipe their fingers. Women servants did not wait at table until the late 17 th century, and then only if the men were unavailable. Sir Geoffrey appears to have been fond of his servants – the Steward or butler on the left is probably Jon of Cole who was left the tapestry and all the silverware in Geoffrey’s will. The other servant has a withered hand. Back

9 Contents The Feast Image taken from Psalm ff.207v Courtesy of The British Library What Does It Mean? There is more to this picture than a simple depiction of a family feast. After nearly 30 years of marriage the legality of Sir Geoffrey and Agnes’ wedding was being questioned (they were second cousins). If it was illegal then Andrew, their son would not be able to inherit the estate. The Luttrell Psalter was probably commissioned in around 1330/31 at a time shortly after the Pope’s decision that the marriage was legal and this could well be a feast to give thanks. Look carefully at the people in the picture – they are shown as legless, some of them are blind (with the whites of their eyes showing), others are not listening and the servant has a withered hand….. The text of the psalm on the page is They have eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear, hands that do not touch and feet that do not walk on the paths of righteousness. The picture of the feast is a reminder to the Luttrell family that they may have been told that their marriage is legal but that they must still be careful to think about God and their spirituality. Back More

10 Contents The Feast Image taken from Psalm ff.207v Courtesy of The British Library What Does It Mean? The composition of the picture is also interesting – it is very similar to that of The Last Supper also shown in the Psalter. Sir Geoffrey, like Christ, sits in the centre of the picture and has a man kneeling before him. He also holds a chalice-like goblet to his lips whilst his son Andrew to his left appears to be holding a wafer. The picture of the feast places Sir Geoffrey in the role of Christ – tending and watching over his people and estates. Back Previous

11 Contents Sir Geoffrey the Knight Image taken from Psalm 109 ff.202v Courtesy of The British Library Those who had religious books such as Psalters made are rarely pictured in them and if they are are more often shown in a religious context or pose e.g. at prayer. The picture is introduced by the Latin inscription Dominus Galfridus Louterell me fieri fecit meaning 'The Lord Geoffrey Luttrell caused me to be made‘. In addition the crest of his helm and the tip of his pendant point up to his name in the text above: 'Louterell'. This image is very unusual and depicts Sir Geoffrey preparing to go into battle, being armed by his wife and daughter in law. By the time the Psalter was made (in the 1330s) Sir Geoffrey was an old man and so the picture is more of a monument or memorial to Sir Geoffrey's past role as a knight rather than a picture of the knight in action. Continue His horse is clothed in a cloth that shows Sir Geoffrey's coat of arms. The same device appears onhis surcoat worn over his armour; on his pendant at the top of his lance; as a crest on top of his helmet and on his shield. When going into battle, it was important that the army could recognise who was friend and who was foe. By displaying a coat of arms, followers could locate their leader easily, and would have been dressed in their lord’s coat of arms too. His wife Agnes Sutton, hands Sir Geoffrey his helmet. Her gown is decorated with the arms of Luttrell impaled with those of Sutton. Waiting to hand Sir Geoffrey the Luttrell shield is his daughter-in-law Beatrice Scrope. Her family arms are impaled with those of Luttrell on her gown. Back

12 Contents The Politics behind the Luttrell Psalter The idea of creating the Psalter may have been to leave a permanent record of the turbulent times at the latter part of Sir Geoffrey's life, and possibly as an atonement for his past sins. Click on the images to hear what Linda Hotchkiss believes are the true meanings behind the pictures. The imagery in the Psalter displays everyday and religious events, but they can also be seen as medieval cartoons that show its creator’s true sympathies against Edward II, a man that history knows was easily corrupted by others. Images courtesy of The British Library These two images are located in the margin of the Psalter. At the top, a man is being attacked by a group of armed men. A similar figure is depicted lower down kicking and pulling at a series of crosses that depict a fence. The victim and the perpetrator appear to be wearing clothes in the style of a monk’s habit. The castle is inhabited by women with flying headdresses. A group of armed men are attacking on the left while an escape is being made on the right. The appearance of a strange beast that looks a cross between a rabbit and a dragon could suggest the identity of the besiegers. More Information

13 Contents The Raid In July 1312, a Royal Commission investigated a raid on Sempringham Priory committed some time earlier by a group of local knights, including Sir Geoffery Luttrell. They took sheep and held them at Birthorpe after breaking down walls and threatening monks and servants in the priory. The monks retaliated and made their own raid on Birthorpe to retrieve their animals, breaking down fences as they did so. Alice was forcibly divorced and after Thomas’ execution in 1322 spent time in prison under the orders of Hugh Despenser and his son, Hugh the Younger, favourites of Edward II at the time. Alice later married Lord Strange. Unlike her 1st marriage her 2nd appears to have been a love match, though she was too old to bear children. The Siege Alice de Laci, daughter of Henry, 3 rd Earl of Lincoln, was descended from Henry II through his illegitimate son. Married at 12 to Thomas Plantaganet she spent much of her married life in Pickering (Yorkshire). In 1317, a knight in the employ of John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, kidnapped Alice whilst on her own manor in Dorset. John may have undertaken this “kidnap” because he was angry that her husband was standing against his divorce He probably had the support of the king (Edward II). After burying her second husband at Barlings Abbey in Lincolnshire, she married a third time to Sir Hugh de Freyne, who had to “kidnap” her from Bolingbroke Castle before she would become his wife. Alice too was buried at Barlings Abbey.

14 Contents The Grotesques Image taken from Folio – Psalm 33 Courtesy of The British Library This couple are both shown as half human, half animal. Click on the query points to find out more … 1 The woman wears a red cote-hardie and her hair is covered (suggesting she is a married woman of high rank). The man is well dressed and groomed, a man of status. The woman reaches out to the well dressed and groomed man. The man faces the woman despite his legs are going in a different direction (he is taking notice of her advances and making little attempt to avoid her). A branch grows out of the woman’s back. A gold wedding ring can be seen on it. Has she put her wedding vows behind her? Edward II’s wife, Isabella (known as the She-Wolf of France to her enemies) soon found out that her husband was not interested in women. Their marriage produced only one child, the future Edward III. Isabella sought attention from Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, and he happily took her favours. They became lovers – despite Mortimer having a wife and family at the time. Together, they planned to overthrow Edward II and rule England in the name of her son but neither they nor their cause was very popular. They did however seize control for a short while until Edward III came of age to handle his own affairs. Mortimer was executed, and Isabella spent the rest of her days in a convent but she never took a nun’s vows. What Does It Mean?

15 Contents Courtesy of The British Library The Execution The Psalter contains many images of warfare or of people being attacked. This image is particularly interesting. The victim wears a red robe – often a sign of royalty or wealth. On his neck is a trace of blood – indicating the headsman had already been unsuccessful in severing the head from the body. When Thomas Plantaganet, Earl of Lancaster, was executed in 1322 after the Battle of Boroughbridge, a swordsman was selected from the King’s army to act as executioner. It took him two strokes to complete the beheading. Only someone who watched the spectacle would know that! Click here to listen to Linda Hotchkiss’ opinion on the meaning of this picture.

16 Contents Image taken from Psalm Psalm 31, ff. 60 Courtesy of The British Library The Beaten Husband? At first glance this image from the side of one of the pages of the Psalter appears to be a woman beating her husband with a distaff or spindle. However, look more carefully and it tells a different story. The “woman” wears a red gown – the sign of royalty or wealth. The hair is curled in a male style and there is no head-dress. “She” carries a spindle or distaff. Women used a distaff when spinning thread and it was the symbol of being a wife. The “husband” is in a position suggesting begging for forgiveness. The “woman” is probably a reference to King Edward II who was alleged to have effeminate ways – hence the distaff in his hand. The man begging forgiveness of his king is probably Edward II’s half-brother, Thomas Plantaganet, Earl of Lancaster. The Earl fought against the King because he was unhappy about the things Edward was doing to the country, and Edward’s constant patronage of a group of man on whom he heaped great favours and power. Click here to listen to Linda Hotchkiss’ opinion on the meaning of this picture.

17 Contents This PowerPoint presentation has been created by Vikki Pearson for The Collection, Lincoln as part of the Luttrell Psalter Learning Journey on Learn with Museums – The presentation uses images from the Luttrell Psalter (reproduced courtsey of The British Library) and video and audio clips courtesy of Wagscreen, Professor Michelle Brown, Pauline Loven and Linda Hotchkiss. Contents

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