Lecture: ‘The Dynastic in the Monastic: King Robert of Anjou and the Pierpont Morgan Library MS.M.626’, Denva Gallant, Murray Seminar at Birkbeck, 16 November 2022 17:30 GMT

The fourteenth century in western Europe witnessed a surge of monastic and lay interest in imitating the practices of the sainted desert hermits known to later generations as the Desert Fathers and Mothers. With 272 illustrations narrating the lives of desert fathers and mothers, NY, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS. M.626 represents an outstanding and rare witness to this moment of eremitic adulation. This talk argues that the manuscript was also part of a broad campaign of identity construction at the court of King Robert of Anjou (r. 1309–1343). On folio 60v of the manuscript, a crypto-portrait, a disguised representation of King Robert as Emperor Theodosius, suggests that Robert was one of the intended readers of Morgan MS. M.626. It is well known that Robert endeavoured to present himself as a pious ruler throughout his reign. The Morgan manuscript sheds light on one such way the sovereign endeavoured to do so—by embodying and performing  a sacred rulership through his readings of the Lives of the Desert Fathers.

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Published by charlottecook

Charlotte Cook graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in European History from Washington & Lee University in 2019. In 2020 she received her Master’s degree in History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, earning the classification of Merit. Her research explores questions of royal patronage, both by and in honor of rulers, in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century England. She has worked as a researcher and collections assistant at several museums and galleries, and plans to begin her PhD in the autumn of 2022.

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