Mediaeval Illuminated Bestiaries
10th October 2023
Presented by Christopher de Hamel
Bestiaries are mediaeval encyclopaedias of all the animals of the world. Most were made in the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, mainly in England. They are illustrated with delightful pictures of creatures and their supposed habits, not only the domestic animals of Europe but also exotic monsters such as elephants, unicorns and strange and unlikely hybrids known from fables and imagination. The lecture asks why Bestiaries were made at all, and who the first owners would have been. The unexpected answers open a whole window into mediaeval life and religious beliefs and into the history of natural science.