The Apocalypse of 1313

The Apocalypse of 1313 f. 71r, Continuation of the battle and capture of the Beast (Ap. 19, 19-21)


f. 71r, Continuation of the battle and capture of the Beast (Ap. 19, 19-21)

The mounted, heavenly army led by the “horseman faithful and true”, the Word of God with the double-edged sword pointing at the enemy like a spear (cf. ff. 68v-69), confronts the kings of the earth shown as foot soldiers in coats of mail gathered behind the Beast – a seven-headed dragon – and his seductive paragon, the false prophet, in the guise of a crawling, horned snake. As in the biblical text, an ellipse in the image hides this apocalyptic battle, although the monsters are depicted in detail falling headlong into the pool of fire and brimstone, shown here like a gaping, black mouth above the burning waters, in the lower register. The naked, bleeding bodies of the crowned sovereigns pile up at the side, victims of the sharp steel of the Almighty. They are thrown to the birds in heaven, the dwelling place of the saints, who busily strip the damned of their mortal coil to give them a lightness like the lightness they themselves enjoy by grace of their virtues alone… This dynamic exegesis brimming with imagery undoubtedly troubled the copyist of our commentary (f. 155v, col.1) no more than John at his desk, busy sharpening his plume.

Marie-Thérèse Gousset and Marianne Besseyre
Illuminated Manuscripts Research Center, Bibliothèque nationale de France
Fragment of the Apocalypse of 1313 commentary volume

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