The Hours of Jean de Montauban

The Hours of Jean de Montauban The Unicorn fights the Monster, f.120v, and Saint Michael the Archangel, f.121r

The Unicorn fights the Monster, f.120v, and Saint Michael the Archangel, f.121r

The text, Michael preposite paradisi quem honorificabant angelorum ('Michael, whom the angels in paradise honoured'), can be read between the two principal miniatures on this page, while the Latin text round the frame reads, Michael Archangele veni in adjutoium in populo Dei in conspectu angelorum ('I, the Archangel Michael, came to the aid of the people of God in the presence of the angels').

The principal scene shows a walled and castled city of remarkable architecture built on an island, which could well be a representation of Mont-Saint-Michel, with four ships moored below. Flying above are swallow-tailed blue banners embroidered with gold fleur-de-lys, the symbol of the kingdom of France. Just below these banners, on the right, is the archangel swooping down from the sky in pursuit of a demon. In the compartment to the right of this scene Michael, in rich clothing this time, has vanquished the devil by means of a spear surmounted by a cross. The figure of the naked woman whom he has saved is looking back in fear at the devil.

Below, in the centre and on the right are two further warlike clashes, with on the right the archangel confronting Satan in person while two of the latter's accomplices run away in terror. In the centre Michael has saved from the furnace of hell many of the dead who ran the risk of being engulfed by the flames, like those being carried there on the backs of two demons. The mouth of hell is wide open, demanding only to swallow the dead. The archangel holds the scales, weighing between the deserving and undeserving, while an angel leads the naked saved souls towards heaven to protect them. In the compartment on the left they are seen kneeling, soon to rise and follow the two angels on the stairs, to climb in their turn, as saved souls, the steps leading to heaven.

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