From the library’s press release, 30 November 2011
Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination is the British Library’s first major exhibition to bring together the Library’s Royal collection, a treasure trove of illuminated manuscripts collected by the kings and queens of England between the 9th and 16th centuries. This dazzling exhibition will debunk the myth that these were ‘the Dark Ages’ by showcasing beautiful artistic artefacts. www.bl.uk/royal,
Curated by Dr Scot McKendrick, Head of History and Classical Studies, British Library; Professor John Lowden, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, and Dr Kathleen Doyle, Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts, British Library, the exhibition features stunning manuscripts that are among the most outstanding examples of royal decorative and figurative painting from this era surviving in Britain today, their colours often as vibrant as when they were first painted.
However, the manuscripts do much more than declare the artistry of their makers; the luxurious objects unlock the secrets of the private lives and public personae of the royals throughout the Middle Ages and provide the most vivid surviving source for understanding royal identity. As well as providing clear instruction on appropriate regal behaviour they also give a direct insight into royal moral codes and religious belief and shed light on the politics of the day.