Description This early fourteenth-century English manuscript is an example of Henri de Gauchy's French translation of De regimine principum, a text that is an important witness to the flowering of the mirror for princes genre at the courts of the Capetian kings of France. Giles of Rome first composed De regimine principum for Philip the Fair of France around 1277, and it was soon translated into several vernacular languages. Henri de Gauchys was the most prolifically copied of the French translations, and remains extant in thirty-one copies, six of which are of English origin. W.144 is one of a cluster of illuminated manuscripts of a political nature produced during the last years of the reign of King Edward II and the minority of Edward III, a tumultuous period in English history during which concerns about good government came to the fore. Although the manuscript contains no evidence of ownership prior to 1463, the quality of the illumination in W.144 suggests that this book was originally destined for a king or member of the nobility. The text is divided into three books intended to instruct princes on their ethical, economic, and political responsibilities: the conduct of the individual ruler; the rule of the family and household; and, the governance of the kingdom. Scenes of princes and scholars conversing, as wells as princes instructing their queens and children, are among the ten miniatures and historiated initials. Stylistically, the book is a member of the Queen Mary Psalter group (London, British Library Royal 2 B VII), although aspects of its illumination also relate it to other important groups of manuscripts produced in early fourteenth-century England.
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Provenance Copied in England (probably London), ca. 1300-1325; Monastery of Sancti Gualtheri (cropped inscription with 16 November 1463 date, fol. 121r), [mode of acquisition unknown]; Ebenezer Mussel, London [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; His sale, London, 30 May 1766, no. 90 [inscription fol. 121r]; William Bayntum, London, 30 May 1766, by purchase; His sale, London, 4 June 1787; John Louis Goldsmid (his arms on binding), London, 4 June 1787, by purchase; Sale, Christie's, London, 11 December 1815, no. 293, to n. 69 bis in a French catalogue (ca. 1840); [Examined by Paulin Paris (notes on fol. b)]; Joseph Barrois collection (no. 22) [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Fourth Earl of Ashburnham, London, 1849, by purchase [from Joseph Barrois]; His sale, Sotheby's, London, 11 June 1901, no. 241; C. Fairfax Murray, 1901-before 1912, by purchase; L. Rosenthal, 1912 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Leon Gruel, Paris, after 1912 [mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, before 1931, by purchase from Leon Gruel; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest. [Other earlier ownership marks: no. 9 in red on back of first flyleaf, no. 37 on back flyleaf; "John Nele" on front flyleaf.]
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters
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