John Lydgate, a monk from southeast England, is one of the most famous Middle English poets. Unlike many authors, Lydgate was recognized for his poetry during his lifetime, enjoying the patronage of the Lancastrian kings Henry V and Henry VI. His major works include the Troy Book, The Siege of Thebes, and The Fall of Princes, an expanded translation into English of a French translation of Boccaccio’s Latin De casibus virorum illustrium. It explores the great leveling power of Fortune, to which even princes are subject.
Takamiya MS 40 is a copy of The Fall of Princes from the third quarter of the fifteenth century. This opening displays the lavish border decoration that marks the end of the sixth book and the beginning of the seventh. Both of these books treat figures from Roman history: the names “Cesar,” “Pompey,” “Agryppa,” and “Octauyan” are visible on these two folios.
Takamiya MS 79 is an illuminated leaf from a manuscript that was probably written by a scribe from the same workshop as the one who wrote Takamiya MS 24 (the Devonshire Chaucer) and Takamiya MS 30 (a fragment, also from The Fall of Princes). Noting distinctive similarities across different scribal hands is one way scholars reconstruct medieval book-production histories and practices.